The Office of Safety and Mission Assurance recently updated NPR 8715.7, Payload Safety Program — formerly Expendable Launch Vehicle (ELV) Payload Safety Program — to bring the document into commonality with guidelines for NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) structure and format and to broaden its applicability to any and all payloads.
The updated version, NPR 8715.7B, applies to all NASA payloads, regardless of how payloads are launched, broadening applicability beyond ELV payloads.
Despite the expanded applicability, projects with established and documented processes and standards should normally be able to continue their use. The NPR will serve as baseline requirements for projects without currently documented procedures.
“If someone new comes in, it’s the least common denominator,” explained Tom Frattin, Payload Safety program manager. “If they don’t have something established to work from, this is the baseline. It fills the gap between what LSP [Launch Services Program] is doing and the sub-class D payloads that are coming in.”
“They [existing payload projects] may have processes, but we weren’t sure what they were, how well they were documented or how stringent they were, so we wanted to make sure all payloads now have sufficient rigor,” added Sandy Hudson, Payload Safety program executive. “The one important thing is that we’re not trying to make more work for people, or for payloads. If you already have well-established, documented processes and procedures, then you’re fine and you don’t have to change to follow this.”
The update will also open the door for better and more direct support for projects through local payload safety engineers.
“There’s plenty of people familiar with this policy at the centers to advocate for you and help you through the policy,” said Frattin. “You don’t have to figure this out alone, and with this policy you don’t have to start from scratch in developing procedures. The NPR points you to a standard that’s tailorable for your requirements.”
Over the coming months, Frattin and Hudson hope to socialize the policy through various working group meetings. Although some centers such as Goddard Space Flight Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory fly payloads regularly, other centers have much slower spacecraft production cycles and likely have fewer documented procedures in this area. Frattin will work with those centers to offer guidance on the NPR, as well as to point them to the appropriate payload safety engineers at their centers. By involving payload safety engineers from the beginning, Frattin believes it will help prevent schedule delays down the road by ensuring payloads are designed and developed in a compliant manner.
Questions about the NPR can be directed to Frattin or Hudson.